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What does Senator Snowe want for her Vote for Health Care?

WASHINGTON - MARCH 31:  Senate Finance Committ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

August 30, 2009

WASHINGTON – As Congress and the Democratic Majority run up against the clock. The public is demanding action and the Democrats are risking being laughed out of office if the majority folds to the Republicans on the most important legislation in decades.

Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine may be the deciding vote on Health Care. With Ted Kennedy gone her vote from the ignored upper right hand corner of the nation becomes pivotal.

As a member of the gang of six her swing vote could put her in an unwanted spotlight.

When asked if she could be the only Republican voting with Senate Democrats “I certainly hope not,” was Senator Snowe’s quick answer.

Ms. Snowe and two Republicans, Senators Charles Grassley of Iowa and Michael Enzi of Wyoming, have been the Republican half of the Gang of Six, a nearly secret committee trying to reach a compromise on health care.

Senator Enzi today made his no compromises stance more clear as he said Democratic proposals would restrict medical choices and make the country’s “finances sicker without saving you money.

As time goes on the Republicans have made it clear they will accept no legislation that change their positions aganist any approach to health care that cuts into insurance agency profits or attempts to provide true consumer protections.

The amount of behind the scenes talk and open speculation about the amount of leverage held by Senator Snowe is causing Democrats and her constituents, some of the poorest in New England, What does Olympia Snowe want?

Unlike some Senators Olympia Snowe is respected by both sides for her principled stand, and careful deal making on issues. Don’t expect to see two new airbases open or a bridge built from Portland to Bangor.

Senator Snowe has broken with her party on other issues but expressed the need for the Democrats to to scale back their health care plans.

While Senator Snowe won’t take bribes she will do what she thinks is best for the people of Maine. How much are the Democrats willing to offer and how much will she turn down for her State just to hew to the Republican line?

Sounding almost like a Democrat Senator Snowe about health care that even those who are satisfied with their current coverage will not stay satisfied, with the rapidly rising costs and steadily shrinking benefits.

Senator Snowe, ignoring Republican cries to toe the line, been willing to show some interest in a public option on a national scale, option, but prefers a “trigger” that would not put the public option in place unless the private insurers fail to lower costs on existing or new plans.

She also favors a reinsurance program that would have the federal government protect insurance company profits by having taxpayers cover the costs of catastrophic health care costs, in the name of lowering private premiums.

Some have said this is only a way to raise private insurers profits, not lower costs to the public.
This plan would most likely only allow insurance companies to further pad their profits by continuing to insure only the health while dropping the sick when they most need coverage.

Senator Snowe, with her history of compromise,her seat on Finance Committee, and her position representing a poor State, along with the death of Senator Edward Kennedy makes Senator Snowe the primary Democratic target.

Democrats a now one vote short of the 60 needed
to overcome a Republican filibuster and the Democratic need, for the moment, for at least one Republican ally has become critical.

Senator Snowe must also consider that Democrats are facing pressure at home to drop bipartisanship as a failed attempt. There is nearly no hope on the left that the Republicans would fund a band aid, never mind a health care plan.

Expecting help from Senator Snow is not simply a dream, she is one of three Republicans that voted with Democrats to pass the stimulus spending.

In the past Senator Snowe has not reflexively supported all tax cuts and has tried to rein in a rising federal deficit while demonstrating the ability to split from Republicans and vote with Democrats when she agrees with the principles.

Republicans see Senator Snowe as turncoat, and they are painting her as a dupe, claiming the Democrats are using her participation as an excuse to claim any bill passed as a bipartisan effort.

Rush Limbaugh and even some sane Republicans have called Olympia Snowe a RINO, meaning a Republican I Name Only.

Senators Snowe and Collins have become the some of the last survivors of a vanishing breed, Republican in New England, by sharp politics, not by blowing in the wind.

Senator Snowe still hopes for a successful plan to be developed by the Gang of six, but her leverage may be coming to an end. The Republican inability to compromise as the party of NO may be forcing the Democrats to turn to a plan that only requires 51 votes to pass.

Senator Snowe has to very careful of her timing and her demands or her influence will wane and Maine will have trouble getting Congress to fund snow shovels in January. So,,,,What does Olympia Snowe want, and will she wait too long and lose the leverage she has to gain an advantage for Maine? What does Senator Snowe want for her vote for Health Care with a Public Option?

First, I know she doesn’t want health care for herself, she has the best health care tax money can buy. In a continuing series on this site Senator Snowe’s office continues to ignore requests for copies of her health plan and the costs to the taxpayer.

As Congress and the Democratic Majority are running up against the clock. The timer is running out for them to do something instead of running from the Republicans.

The public that elected them and can elect them again is demanding action and the Democrats are risking being laughed out of office if the majority folds to the Republicans on the most important legislation in decades. Democratic office holders should remember that apathy for Republican candidates by Republican voters played a large part in the GOP defeat in 2008.

Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine may be the deciding vote on Health Care. With Ted Kennedy gone her vote from the ignored upper right hand corner of the nation becomes pivotal.

As a member of the gang of six her swing vote could put her in an unwanted spotlight.

When asked if she could be the only Republican voting with Senate Democrats “I certainly hope not,” was Senator Snowe’s quick answer.

Ms. Snowe and two Republicans, Senators Charles Grassley of Iowa and Michael Enzi of Wyoming, have been the Republican half of the Gang of Six, a nearly secret committee trying to reach a compromise on health care.

SenatorEnzi today made his no compromises stance more clear as he said Democratic proposals would restrict medical choices and make the country’s “finances sicker without saving you money.

As time goes on the Republicans have made it clear they will accept no legislation that change their positions aganist any approach to health care that cuts into insurance agency profits or attempts to provide true consumer protections.

The amount of behind the scenes talk and open speculation about the amount of leverage held by Senator Snowe is causing Democrats and her constituents, some of the poorest in New England, What does Olympia Snowe want?

Unlike some Senators Olympia Snowe is respected by both sides for her principled stand, and careful deal making on issues. Don’t expect to see two new airbases open or a bridge built from Portland to Bangor.

Senator Snowe has broken with her party on other issues but expressed the need for the Democrats to to scale back their health care plans.

While Senator Snowe won’t take bribes she will do what she thinks is best for the people of Maine. How much are the Democrats willing to offer and how much will she turn down for her State just to hew to the Republican line?

Sounding almost like a Democrat Senator Snowe about health care that even those who are satisfied with their current coverage will not stay satisfied, with the rapidly rising costs and steadily shrinking benefits.

Senator Snowe, ignoring Republican cries to toe the line, been willing to show some interest in a public option on a national scale, option, but prefers a “trigger” that would not put the public option in place unless the private insurers fail to lower costs on existing or new plans.

She also favors a reinsurance program that would have the federal government protect insurance company profits by having taxpayers cover the costs of catastrophic health care costs, in the name of lowering private premiums.

Some have said this is only a way to raise private insurers profits, not lower costs to the public.
This plan would most likely only allow insurance companies to further pad their profits by continuing to insure only the health while dropping the sick when they most need coverage.

Senator Snowe, with her history of compromise,her seat on Finance Committee, and her position representing a poor State, along with the death of Senator Edward Kennedy makes Senator Snowe the primary Democratic target.

Democrats a now one vote short of the 60 needed
to overcome a Republican filibuster and the Democratic need, for the moment, for at least one Republican ally has become critical.

Senator Snowe must also consider that Democrats are facing pressure at home to drop bipartisanship as a failed attempt. There is nearly no hope on the left that the Republicans would fund a bandaid, never mind a health care plan.

Expecting help from Senator Snow is not simply a dream, she is one of three Republicans that voted with Democrats to pass the stimulus spending.

In the past Senator Snowe has not reflexively supported all tax cuts and has tried to rein in a rising federal deficit while demonstrating the ability to split from Republicans and vote with Democrats when she agrees with the principles.

Republicans see Senator Snowe as turncoat, and they are painting her as a dupe, claiming the Democrats are using her participation as an excuse to claim any bill passed as a bipartisan effort.

Rush Limbaugh and even some sane Republicans have called Olympia Snowe a RINO, meaning a Republican I Name Only.

Senators Snowe and Collins have become the some of the last survivors of a vanishing breed, Republican in New England, by sharp politics, not by blowing in the wind.

Senator Snowe still hopes for a successful plan to be developed by the Gang of six, but her leverage may be coming to an end. The Republican inability to compromise as the party of NO may be forcing the Democrats to turn to a plan that only requires 51 votes to pass.

Senator Snowe has to very careful of her timing and her demands or her influence will wane and Maine will have trouble getting Congress to fund snow shovels in January. So,,,,What does Olympia Snowe want, and will she wait too long and lose the leverage she has to gain an advantage for Maine?

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August 30th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Health care, Insurance, Mike Enzi, Olympia Snowe, rush limbaugh | no comments

Chellie Pingree Pulls Ahead, First Congress person to Respond

SMP 2008 chellie pingreeImage by samm4mrox via Flickr

This is the third part of a series testing how our elected officials in Maine respond to a question from a Citizen about their federal health care plans.

Recap: Senators Snowe and Collins, Representatives Michaud, and Pingree were asked for copies of their health care policies and what the costs are to the public and to them.
They were also asked how much of those health care benefits will carry into retirement if they become vested.

Remember, this is public information, hard to find but public. You and me and your neighbors pay their salaries. We pay for their benefits, or at least some part of those benefits.

Snowe’s office refused Collins office very politely said, don’t call us, we’ll call you.

Michaud’s office, also politely gave me the brush off.

Congress Woman Pingree’s office sent a response, and then a follow up response when I pointed out that they may have misunderstood my question.

The response is coming later in this post. One out of three elected officials, two answers and one of them advice to “go find it yourself”. The other answer a polite follow up along with an a second follow up, without the information, but seriously leaving the door open to belief that we have at least one Congressional representative that cares about the people of Maine.

In all fairness I will copy the three posts on this topic, forward them to the Congressional offices involved in case I just hit one day of bad customer service in three cases.

Thank you, Congress woman Pingree and thank you Mr. Ritch for the emails.


Dear Tom,

Let me see if I can dig up that information for you.

Willy

On 8/25/09 8:47 PM, “NarsBars” <NarsBars@UnionMaine.Org> wrote:

Mr. Ritch,
Thank you but my question was more specific. I would like a copy of the explanation of benefits for the plan Congresswoman Pingree elected and a break down of the costs for that plan allocated to the Congresswoman and the taxpayer. I realize this is public information but my intent is more than health care, it is to measure and demonstrate the help or lack of help each federal office holder in Maine is willing to provide to the public as opposed to a lobbyist.
I am afraid my contributions to Congresswoman Pingree will not get me an invitation to chat on the phone.

I look forward to that information, as Senator Snowe’s office has told me to “go look it up” . I am publishing all of the answers I receive or the lack of them in a continuing series on my blog Http://www.unionmaine.blogspot.com <http://www.unionmaine.blogspot.com/>

Thank you,
Thomas Maher


From: Willy Ritch [mailto:willy.ritch@mail.house.gov]
Sent: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 9:45 AM
To: narsbars@unionmaine.org
Subject:


Hi Tom,

I understand you had a question about health care benefits that Members of Congress are eligible for. They actually have a choice of a bunch of plans, and I think this LA Times article describes it pretty well:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-congress-benefits2-2009aug02,0,7524121.story

Let me know if you have any more questions.

All the best,

Willy

Willy Ritch
Communications Director
Policy Advisor
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-1)
willy.ritch@mail.house.gov


P.S. Check out Congresswoman Pingree’s web site.

Here is a summary of Congresswoman Pingree’s stance on health care during 2002.


Allow states to negotiate lower drug prices

Pingree will push to increase the bargaining power of states. Maine has led the way in attempting to lower drug costs for all residents by negotiating with drug companies for lower prices. However, states need more flexibility from the federal government to negotiate lower prices through the federally funded, state-administered Medicaid program. The creative work done in the states should not be tied up at every turn by this powerful industry. States should be allowed more flexibility under the law to seek creative solutions. Any state should be able to negotiate for lower prices from drug companies that provide drugs to the state’s Medicaid program — and pass those discounts on to anyone who lacks prescription drug coverage, not just those on Medicaid.

Source: Campaign website, www.PingreeForSenate.com, “Health Care” Sep 26, 2002

Fight drug companies to make generic drugs available

Pingree will push to make lower priced, quality generic drugs available to consumers. Many people could save enormous amounts of money by buying high-quality, lower priced generic drugs, which often cost 25-60% less than expensive name-brand drugs. However, pharmaceutical companies use their influence to keep quality generic drugs off the market,. National drug policies should lower the barriers erected by the big drug companies and make quality generic drugs available to consumers.

Source: Campaign website, www.PingreeForSenate.com, “Health Care” Sep 26, 2002

Patient’s Rights to protect privacy

Pingree called for passage of a National Patients Bill of Rights that includes additional privacy protections for patients. “Keeping your medical records protected from the marketing departments of the pharmaceutical companies is a basic right that patients deserve,” said Pingree. “A National Patients Bill of Rights that includes privacy protections will ensure that doctors and heath care professionals — not big drug or insurance companies — make important heath care decisions.”

Source: Campaign website, PingreeForSenate.com, “Patients Rights” Aug 28, 2002

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August 29th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Chellie Pingree, Dear Tom, Health care, Maine, Olympia Snowe, United States Congress, United States House of Representatives | no comments

Health Care Reform. Part two. They don’t get it.

Chellie PingreeImage via Wikipedia

In part one of health care reform, I asked Senators Collins, Snowe, Michaud, and Pingree, for copies of their insurance policies and what the real costs and benefits are. How good are the plans, how much do they cost you and me?

Snowe’s office told me to go find it myself, they refused to talk.
Michaud sent and answer, but while polite it didn’t say anything.

Collins office, roughly translated said we’ll get back to you.

Pingree’s office sent a response tonight. I include the response, which answered none of my questions and my return to her office.




From: Willy Ritch [mailto:willy.ritch@mail.house.gov]
Sent: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 9:45 AM
To: narsbars@unionmaine.org
Subject:


Hi Tom,

I understand you had a question about health care benefits that Members of Congress are eligible for. They actually have a choice of a bunch of plans, and I think this LA Times article describes it pretty well:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-congress-benefits2-2009aug02,0,7524121.story

Let me know if you have any more questions.

All the best,

Willy


Willy Ritch
Communications Director
Policy Advisor
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-1)
207-774-5019 (Maine)
202-225-6116 (Washington)
willy.ritch@mail.house.gov

Mr. Ritch,

Thank you but my question was more specific. I would like a copy of the explanation of benefits for the plan Congresswoman Pingree elected and a break down of the costs for that plan allocated to the Congresswoman and the taxpayer. I realize this is public information but my intent is more than health care, it is to measure and demonstrate the help or lack of help each federal office holder in Maine is willing to provide to the public as opposed to a lobbyist.

I am afraid my contributions to Congresswoman Pingree do will not get me an invitation to chat on the phone.

I look forward to that information, as Senator Snowe’s office has told me to “go look it up” . I am publishing all of the answers I receive or the lack of them in a continuing series on my blog Http://www.unionmaine.blogspot.com

Thank you,

Thomas Maher


The following was not in the letter, it is just my feelings.


We elected Democrats and if even they won’t tell us how much we are paying them, what next? This is my money! I want to know what you are being paid!

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August 25th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Chellie Pingree, Healthcare reform, Olympia Snowe | no comments

You think so, do you? Don’t think about it alone, let everyone hear it.


Marine Bumper StickersImage by JasonTromm via Flickr

Go ahead, click on the link at the bottom of the post. Trust me, I work for the Government.


You won’t win a mysterious lottery, start or stop growing hair. Healthcare, do you care? The latest State Employee Contract…..like it or hate
http://unionmaine.informe.com/

Loyal AMG reader? Left Wing tree hugger? Click the link and be the first to start your own topic.

Bumper sticker car parked in Santa Cruz, Calif...Image via Wikipedia


http://unionmaine.informe.com/

Go ahead, if you don’t like what happens you will be in the right spot to do something about it.

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August 23rd, 2009 Posted by narsbars | As Maine Goes, Health, Left-wing politics, MSEA-SEIU, Maine State Employees, public option | no comments

Will Our Representatives Help a Mainer Who is Not Rich or a Lobbyist? Will They Even Answer Questions?

BalanceImage via Wikipedia

Unionmaine is taking on both the Democrats and the Republicans that represent Maine on the health care debate. There are a lot of rumors going around, the “Obama will kill your grandmother” and “it’s unfair to health insurance companies” buzz so I have decided to get some facts.

Continue reading at the bottom, I will update this post as answers or lack of answers show up. The first answer is from Congressman Michaud.

The first thing I would like to give our representatives a chance to tell the whole truth about is their so called “Golden Health Care”. Do they pay all of it? Do they pay some of it? Does Congress get a lot more than the regular citizen?

I don’t know so I called their offices to ask.

We will get a chance to see how well our representatives respond to a member of the public. On Wednesday, August 19, I called Senator Snowe, Senator Collins, and representatives Michaud, and Pingree. I made two statements and asked a question. I said I was strongly in favor of a public option for any health care plan and second, that I was also a blogger. I further said that the reason for my call was to judge the responsiveness of our representatives to a request for information!

The responsiveness to a citizen is my real motive, I used the health care question because it is in the news, I am interested, and our representatives have had months to prepare for any kind of question from the public.

Will they give an answer? Remember, everything I asked for is public information, I only asked for help as a citizen for information that could help to decide which way I should continue to feel about a public option.

I asked each office for a copy of the explanation of benefits for the health care plan the Senator or representative had had elected to participate in and a financial statement for how much the tax payer paid and how much the representative paid.

Senator Snowe’s office was simply rude. I was told that it is public information, go look it up. I asked for a link to the information and again I was refused. I asked for an email, and got a big NO. Senator Snowe’s office would not even agree to send me an email with a refusal. I was told they don’t do email.

So much for Senator Snowe.

Senator Collins Office took my request and said they would “look into it”. While it sounded like a brush off we will see.

Representative Michaud’s office, while polite gave much the same answer.

Representative Pingree’s office asked questions about what I was doing, what I wanted and the woman who took the call was both polite and professional without giving any promises, except that whatever decision was reached, they would let me know.

I was not seeking detailed financial records from our representatives. I would think they would have been prepared for questions like these already. This investigation into ”responsiveness and effectiveness” in our federal representatives will let us know how they feel not so much on health care, but about us. If they send the information, good and if they will or they won’t Mainer find public information that will show what level of respect they have or do not have for the voters.

I asked for the following:

  • A listing of the total cost for each representative and Senator for the health care plan they have enrolled in.
  • A listing of the tax payer contribution to the plans.
  • Their personal costs for their health care plans.
  • A copy of their explanation of benefits from their plan to include deductibles, limitations, drug benefits etc.

  • How long do they have to work for the Federal Government before they are vested in their health care plans and do they continue to receive those plans upon retirement?
  • Do they pay for their plans in retirement?

Either the information or the refusal to help will become public–just as the debate in the House and Senate picks up. Senators and representatives might think a little differently about how and who they represent. If the public sees Congress receiving a golden plan far better than the one they are willing to pass for us, or if we see a plan just like any Wal-Mart employee could buy it will help us to understand how our representatives view us and our needs for care.

If it is a great plan we will have to ask Congress to stop obstructing reform may change their commitment from obstruction to progress pretty quickly

August 21 Congressman Michaud

This is my reply, read on for the Congress critter’s answer.


Congressman Michaud,

Thank you. My request was for a copy of your explanation of benefits booklet for your federal insurance and a financial breakdown of how much you pay, how much the tax payer pays and whether your insurance will continue when you retire.

Please see my article at http://www.unionmaine.blogspot.com/2009/08/will-our-representatives-help-mainer.html where I have published my request to the whole Maine delegation. This form letter addresses very little of my request.

Please let me know if you intend to provide the information. Senator Snowe has already refused although her office agreed it was public information.

Thank you,

Thomas Maher



From: me02@housemail.house.gov [mailto:me02@housemail.house.gov]
Sent: Friday, August 21, 2009 5:28 PM
To: NarsBars@TDS.net
Subject: A Message from Congressman Michaud


August 21, 2009

Mr. Thomas Maher


Dear Thomas:

Thank you for contacting me regarding healthcare reform in the United States. One of the most important parts of my job is to hear the many perspectives from the people I represent. That’s why I come back to Maine almost every single weekend – so I can stay in touch with what’s on the minds of the people of Maine’s Second Congressional District.

It is clear that our health care system is broken. Premiums have doubled in nine years and have grown three times faster than wages, which is squeezing everyone’s ability to make ends meet. Average American families already pay an extra $1,100 per year in premiums to support a broken system with 46 million Americans uninsured. Soaring costs harm the competitiveness of American businesses in the global economy and eat up a larger chunk of our gross domestic product every year. We have the most expensive health care system in the world with our country spending almost 50% more per person on health care than the next most costly nation. But we’re no healthier for it. As such, if we do nothing, in a decade, we’ll be spending $1 of every $5 on health care. In 30 years, it will be $1 of every $3.

Health care reform is too big of an issue to rush, and it’s important that Mainers know what it consists of before Congress votes on it. That’s why I recently sent a letter with my colleagues that asked congressional leaders to promote an open and bipartisan process that allows Members of Congress and the American people sufficient time to review the bill and add their input. Our letter also requested that Congress live up to the President’s goals of passing comprehensive reform that is deficit-neutral and that lowers costs for our families and businesses, increases the quality of care provided, and expands access for every American. In addition, we urged congressional leaders to make sure that small businesses and rural areas are treated fairly in any reform efforts. My signing of this letter was in no way an attempt to disrupt the process or water down a public insurance option, but rather a request for thoughtful consideration of the most important public policy issue of our time – with probably only one chance for us to get it right.

H.R.3200, America’s Affordable Health Choice Act, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 14, 2009. By preserving choice of doctors, hospitals, and health plans, this legislation would uphold President Obama’s promise that anyone who is satisfied with their current health insurance plan should be allowed to keep it. Additionally, H.R.3200 would make investments to promote prevention and public health programs, reduce waste and fraud, and expand the health care workforce. Medicaid coverage would be expanded to all individuals with an income up to 133% of the federal poverty level. Finally, H.R.3200 would create a self-sustaining public health insurance option, providing an affordable option to the millions of Americans without coverage.

I support a public insurance option, but I also believe that it is important that it be affordable and properly structured to address the needs of rural states like Maine. One such very serious concern with the current draft of the bill is that using Medicare-like rates for a public option would have a grave effect on Maine. Currently, the formula used to reimburse physicians and hospitals through Medicare puts rural states at a disadvantage by undercutting payments to our health care providers and contributing to higher health care premiums in Maine. Making matters worse, there is a severe shortage of health care providers in our state, and this number will continue to decrease unless we can develop a reimbursement system that will not drive our providers out of business and, ultimately, out of Maine altogether.

I strongly believe that we need to pass a fiscally responsible reform plan that fixes what is wrong with our healthcare system while preserving what works. Individuals that are satisfied with a private health insurance plan should be allowed to keep it. Furthermore, I do not support proposals to tax current health care benefits to finance reform or any measure that will place an excessive burden on small business owners. President Obama and the U.S. Congress must work together in a bipartisan fashion to deliver a plan that considers the many positive aspects of the American health care system and includes the best elements of the plans put forward so far.

Over the next few weeks, three House committees will work to merge their versions of health care reform into one package. The Senate is also working on a bipartisan way forward. Recent agreements reached in the House are likely to improve the legislation, making reform work better for Mainers and our small businesses. Current information, as well as the full text of the legislation, is available by going to http://www.michaud.house.gov and clicking on “Health Care Reform.” I remain hopeful that this process will produce strong legislation that will lower costs, expand coverage and improve quality for all Americans.

Thank you again for sharing your views with me. In addition, I also provide occasional email updates on a range of issues affecting people in Maine. If you would like to receive this information, please visit my website at http://www.michaud.house.gov/enewsletter and sign up for my email newsletter. I appreciate the opportunity to represent you.

With warmest regards,

Michael H. Michaud

Member of Congress

Stay tuned, I really want to see what healthcare Congress carries and why you and I should not have access to the same plan.


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August 21st, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

Health Care Reform. They don’t care who dies.

great hedImage by Esthr via Flickr


Health Care Reform, Lies and Lies. They don’t care who dies.

The Republicans said Obama will come to your house at night and kill your grandmother.

Half trained idiots led by the real death panel supporters are trying to shout down the voice of reason in town meetings while claiming their rights are being violated.

I heard a woman call a talk show, saying that her husband had health care from the military, she was old enough for Medicare and she damn well didn’t want anyone to start any kind of government run health care.
What she had worked, and she did not want the government involved.

Every time they tell another lie and get caught they just want to tell more. I don’t understand the stupidity of people with no health care or lousy health care defending the right of insurance companies to have death panels while demanding that no one cut into the billions of dollars in profits the companies make.

Some of the Real facts:
The U.S.A. does not have the worlds best heath care…….unless you are rich.
The U.S.A. does not have the worlds best child mortality rate………unless you are rich.
The U.S.A. has some of the worst preventive medicine in the major industrialized countries.

The U.S.A. spends twice as much on health care as the rest of the major industrialized nations and receives less, and worse care.

If you don’t believe any of this, research it, cross check it. It is hard to lose your pride but that is what the likes of Limbaugh are selling.

You can be a proud American, get sick and die, but you will die proud………and ignorant.

An emergency room will fix your broken arm, but if you need therapy to keep from being paralyzed, that is not covered.

Do your kids need braces to keep from looking like Horace the horse? I did, and without a good health care plan I hope your kid likes sugar cubes

The Repulicans said that AARP did not support health care reform. Watch the ad and decide for your self.

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August 18th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

Nine Miles of Lazy, Dangerous Road Work

The first thing the public thinks when they see road work is the D.O.T. and lazy State workers.

There are several miles of construction going on from Palmyra to the Pittsfield line and someone may get killed.

A report came in that Flaggers were in one case standing on the wrong side of the road, at the other end of the construction a flagger was standing in the shade and nearly invisible to cars with the sun in their faces.

The village of Palmyra must love the work being done by another flagger, a flagger who was supposed to wait for his replacement before going to lunch. During lunch hour recently there was no flagger, no cotrol and over thirty cars lined up in the middle of Palmyra village.

Was this the D.O.T. NO! This was more contracting out! Risking the lives of the public, wasting our money, while everyone blames the State employees who are not there!

Where will the Senators and representatives that love contracting out so much be when someone is killed?

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August 17th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | one comment

Will OPEGA be Allowed to Stop Waste and Fraud?

Maine State Police Cruiser - Ford InterceptorImage via Wikipedia

Will State Government ever stop fraud and waste in Privatization?
August 16, 2009.

As State Government seeks to enrich private interests with no concern for the taxpayer, public officials in other State and local governments are seeing outsourced contracts bleeding red ink and are starting to review “good old boy” contracts that have been in place for years.

Maine government has always been ready to settle for the quick fix. They have waited until times are desperate, rather than planning ahead.

Our governors and legislators on both sides of the aisle have always been ready to fall back on blaming State employees as too expensive while seeking the cover of downsizing State Government and claiming contractors can perform public services “better, cheaper, and faster.”

The well hidden facts show that this is very often so much cow flop. The justification for privatizing government services is becoming harder sell as more and more examples of waste are shown. On the National level the examples include abuses by federal contractors such as Halliburton and Blackwater in Iraq.

How many dead Marines were killed due to faulty showers turned into electrified death chambers?

On the interstate our rest areas are closed. Except where State Employees work, the interstate looks like a scene from a disaster movie.Contractors paint their trucks the same color as State trucks, buy their employees the same uniforms, then when they “lean on shovels” a State employee is blamed.

In Maine we outsourced the grass cutting on the interstate. When the costs for State employees to cut grass was figured, the State costs were figured based on weekly cutting from May 1 through Labor day. When the so called cheaper bid was given out the contractors were only required to cut the grass two times during the season.

This contract has never been reevaluated. Millions, perhaps tens of millions of dollars are going to mostly one Augusta landlord while State buildings remain empty and the legislators are being urged to tear down the remaining buildings and rent from Eddie G. In the mean time the state study on the cost of rental space has been suspended since 2008.(Check the link to OPEGA)

The Maine Revenue Service pays private contractors to collect taxes and then lets them skim some of the funds, all the while paying more for the services than the cost of hiring State employees.

State IT hires contractors to do services that could be provided by State employees by withholding training funds for State employees in order to claim that we have no one able to perform the services.

.The real costs of privatization must be exposed. 911, Fire Departments, State Police, Motor Vehicles, in many places the profit motive does not support the the public good.

In the name of public service, some State and local agencies are limiting privatization: · The Metrolink commuter rail agency in Los Angeles voted to stop outsourcing and hire its own train crews, after a crash killed 25 people.

There are rising cries for Audits of State contracts. Last week, OPEGA, ( The Office of Program Evaluation & Government Accountability) called for a thorough review of State contracts to determine where services might be less expensively provided by State employees.

Citizens are not being served, State offices are closed, our budget is put in danger by privatization and it’s only to enrich a few at a huge cost to the taxpayers.

Legislators, perhaps looking to their own retirement as consultants are trying to outsource many functions, rest areas closed or outsourced, grass cutting on the interstate where it is looking like a wheat field, not a road.

Last year the Levinson center in Bangor was outsourced to save twelve cents a day.

OPEGA suspended

Employees lost pay and benefits in order to enrich a corporation and save $512.00 a year. The bidding process alone probably ate up a hundred years of the so called savings.

We must demand that our government works for all Mainers, and tax dollars are no longer flushed down the toilet by government contracts. The need to end waste, fraud and abuse in government contracting demands legislation be passed to ensure:

Ensure that jobs that should be done by government are performed by State employees. Agencies would be required to identify those jobs performed by contractors, review the costs and bring all jobs back in house that can be performed at the same or lower costs.

All contracts must consider the loss of revenue to the State for any contract bid that would send substantial dollars out of State.

We lose tax revenue, and we lose good jobs for Mainers by paying out of State and even off shore contractors. Considering this loss of revenue would bring many more jobs in reach of State government or to other Maine employers.

Agencies must be required to provide inventories of all contracts and to track costs and performance.

Require agencies to determine whether there are or will be staffing shortages and develop plans to address them.

Require that all contract costs be made public and that all terms of any outsourced conract be based on the same work being performed by State government.

Direct the Administration to make long-overdue reforms, as suggested by OPEGA, (The Office of Program Evaluation & Government Accountability)
to contracting out policies and reviews.

Suspend all contracting out that would result in the loss of any State jobs until all the reforms have been made across the government.

Until then, check out how much has not been done, how many dollars are in limbo because the studies have been suspended (cost to rent buildings for one)
how much more we need to do?

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August 17th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Maine, Maine State Employees, Privatization, State Government, outsourcing | no comments

Friday Music Festival

This is a day off. If you like cats or not, this is all about the kindness and generosity of feline kind.

Some humor, some great music and one of the best guitar pieces ever played, Cliffs of Dover.
If you have never heard this piece it is over ten minutes long and take until about the five minute mark before it will peel your ears off.

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August 13th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

Chellie Pingree Defends Lobster Marriage

Who better than Colbert to expose the Democratic plan to let marriage equality lead to Mainers marrying lobsters?

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Better Know a District – Maine’s 1st – Chellie Pingree
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Meryl Streep

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August 12th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments